Here’s how it starts. It’s early; I’m sitting by the woodstove, sipping my tea and reading. Often the stove is going, out where I live, near the coast, so I’m cozy. Warm stove, hot tea, book, jammies, slippers; you get the idea. Cozy.
Slowly something starts to disturb this idyllic scene. I become aware that he is staring at me. Of course he stares, it comes with the breed, but usually, at this time of day, he’s a bit more relaxed, even asleep. Not today. Continue reading →
Like having a child, the question when to get a dog can be put off endlessly if contemplated long enough. Is there ever a “good” time to throw ones life into this kind of turmoil? Best not to think about it too much.
However, we got a trial run by pooch-sitting a friend’s dog while she was traveling abroad for two months. He was a smallish, sweet-faced, silver-haired dog named “Otter.”
Among dogs, there are the kind you find and the kind that find you. Otter found my friend Maria by sitting under her car for 14 hours during a rainstorm one winter. He hit what you might call the jackpot. Ever since that fateful day, his life had been a tantalizing itinerary of long walks, chasing rubber balls and excoriating small stuffed animals. He had also been known to get Chateaubriand and swordfish for dinner, along with an endless supply of Snausages. For those of you who don’t know, Sausages are like those little weiners wrapped in cheese-flavored crescent rolls, only for dogs.
Animal Rescue and I have been friends for well over 13 years. It began when I was going through a rough patch in my life and became addicted to watching the Animal Control Officers Rescue shows. Then one day I got off the couch and said to myself “So what are YOU doing to help?” That evening I applied to foster for many rescues but the one that fit my personality the most was a boxer rescue.
Through rescue I became acquainted with most of the folks at Sonoma County Animal Services and The Marin Humane Society. I kept hearing “Shirley this and Shirley that” but never really made an effort to meet this infamous “Shirley”. After my own dog died I went in to the Sonoma County Animal Services to meet a beautiful black Great Dane puppy, thinking she would be perfect for me and was told that the giant puppy who had curled herself into a ball and was clearly praying she not be seen was being adopted by “Shirley”. I thought ‘I have to meet this puppy stealer’-in jest of course.
Fast forward two years: a dear friend had offered to foster a pregnant boxer. It was her first foster and my first experience with a pregnant female. When I mentioned this in passing to the Kennel Manager at Sonoma County Animal Services, she said “oh you must call Shirley” and she gave me her cell phone number. So I did. As it turned out this pregnant boxer was one of my most horrifying and rewarding cases I have ever dealt with. You see, the mother had an undiagnosed heart issue and died leaving my friend and I with 9, only day old puppies and very little experience. This meant feeding 9 puppies every 4 hours, helping them eliminate, keeping them warm but not too warm, being sure they where gaining weight, and knowing when they were failing. I was at a loss… clearly overwhelmed… and deeply saddened by the loss of the fabulous boxer mom.
Then there was a beacon light on my phone “how are things?”-Shirley. To say Shirley was a life saver would be an understatement. I called her day and night asking for guidance and she always picked up. She was a coach, a mentor, a friend, a therapist. She was (and is) a God send. She helped us save 7 of those 9 puppies, helped me understand that not all puppies make it and that was normal even with the mom alive. She even offered to take them if we needed her to.
I feel blessed to be in rescue helping those who couldn’t help themselves. Meeting the fabulous animals and people in rescue. Seeing the completion of families and the beginning of best friendships with their new four legged companions. The fosters forgiving their pasts and beginning their new lives forever changed is truly wonderful. If I could wag my tail I would because from the day Shirley texted me “how are things?” till this day forward I knew Shirley was a friend for life. A life saver. What I have received will always out weigh what I have given. Thank you Shirley Zindler, I am so proud to call her my friend.
Years ago, my daughter and I fostered puppies for Second Chance Rescue. We failed with the first foster puppy – we just had to adopt Taffy! I’m not sure why, out of the 20 or so puppies we fostered, we had to have this one. It might have been her short, stumpy, sawed off legs, her tiny ears on her big head, or the fact that all her parts were such a beautiful unsymmetrical mess! It also didn’t hurt that she was as sweet as they come and as soft as a chinchilla.
About two years ago, I got a text message from Shirley saying, “hey I just got a litter of foster puppies today and one of them reminds me of your old Taffy girl – she’s a short stack.” That night I went over to hang out with my friend and kiss puppies for the zillionth time. After being able to resist all those other adorable puppies I’d kissed, I found myself falling in love with this little Taffyish baby dog. Those short legs! I knew it wasn’t practical, we didn’t need a fourth dog, so when George said no, even though he never says no, I didn’t push.
The puppies happened to be ready to go off to their new homes right around Christmas time, and my wonderful husband had not yet shopped for me (that’s usually a Christmas Eve chore). So when Shirley told me she found a great family for my puppy, one that lived in Sebastopol and had two kids, she wasn’t lying. I was happy for them, sad for me. I was happy that my favorite puppy was getting a loving home. Sad that it wasn’t my home.
On Christmas Eve, George walked in the door with my beautiful Dr. Seuss puppy “Evie”, wearing a huge red bow around her neck, and blew me away!
We’ve all seen the photos and videos; a child opens a gift box and out comes the most adorable puppy or kitten in the world! The best gift ever, right? This is a long debated subject in the animal world and often thought to be a terrible idea. However, in recent years, many shelters & rescue organizations have changed their position and policies on giving pets as gifts. They’ve found that the majority of the time, an animal given as a gift, finds responsible, loving, caring homes.
If you want to give a gift of a pet, there are important things to consider.
I co-taught a puppy class for years. Week after week, well intended people were dragged in by his/her puppy. Many of those same people said “I’ve always had Labs” or “This is my seventh Border Collie”, we don’t realize that our ability to properly exercise and manage a high energy dog changes with time. Or the well intended families that love animals but are gone all day at work and school. Their dogs are left to their own devices and often times become destructive and unruly. In both of these cases, considering an adult dog that is a bit mellower might have been a better choice. This applies with our feline friends as well. Typically, the younger the cat, the more energy and time demanding they are. This is fantastic for an engaged, active family but not so much for the mellower household.
Here are several things to consider before giving a pet as a present:
Has the gift recipient expressed interest in a certain type/breed of dog or cat? If so, for every breed there is a breed rescue. Try that avenue first and save a life!
Is the recipient ready for a 10-15 year commitment? If not and a 5 year commitment feels better, consider an adult or senior animal.
If the recipient is a child, are the parent(s) willing to take full responsibility? No matter how strong the intention that it’s ‘Billy’s buddy’, it will most always fall onto the adults’ lap.
Is the recipient able to financially support the cost of owning an animal? (vet, food, training).
What is the recipient’s ability to care for the animal? Some types of animals are easier than others; cats can be exercised in a variety of ways without leaving the home, whereas many dogs need activity outdoors.
Choosing an animal is a very personal experience. Consider wrapping a cat/dog toy in a box with a gift certificate to your local animal shelter and let the recipient choose for themselves.
Ask the animal shelter/rescue group/breeder about a return policy before adopting.
Consider a ‘Senior for Seniors’ program for the wonderful senior in your life!
When you adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group, you are saving the life of two animals, the one you adopted and one that you just created space for. Please adopt.
The upside to have animal companions is obvious; they enrich our lives in a multitude of ways.
Please, make good choices. These living, breathing beings are counting on it.
Written by: Charlotte Tunstall Pearce ~ Owner of Affinity Pet Services, LLC and Development Manager at Dogwood Animal Rescue Project
Top photo: Calder, Pippi and Daisy Bottom photo: Sandy & Sandy
2016 Calendars are here! Incredible photographs from Shirley Zindler’s collection…
This calendar is filled with beautiful images of rescue dogs from the past years, along with a few wonderful happily-ever-after stories & inspirational quotes. Remember Boo? She’s was the little pregnant dog rescued by our founder, Shirley, in a tree trunk. She is our cover girl for the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project 2016 Calendar!
Proceeds from this calendar will go directly to assisting the start-up costs for creating Dogwood Animal Rescue Project, enabling us to become a 501c3 non-profit organization – to assist Shirley Zindler & provide hope for homeless animals through rescue, rehabilitation, wellness & education.
So we had this idea…to provide support for Shirley Zindler, author of The Secret Life of Dog Catchers, who works tirelessly ~ day in & day out in Sonoma County, California to help animals with the greatest needs.
We’ve watched her take animals in…be it dogs, cats, skunks, and even wolf-hybrids and provide them with love, socialization, training and when they are ready, a new place to call home. Always funding her efforts out of her own pocket. She shows up for animals when no one else will be there.
Shirley is the reason so many animals have happier lives. The reason that so many knew, even in their last moment, that they were loved, that their lives meant something. She is the reason, after many years of effort, that a group of inspired friends & folks got together & along with her, initiated Dogwood Animal Rescue Project.
DARP is in currently in our infancy stage…we are building our organization to become 501c3 non-profit and to establish our goals of assisting Shirley in every capacity we can.
DARP is not able to accept financial donations at this time – but we do have a GoFundme account set up to help between now and the beginning of the new year to aid Shirley while she provides care for those animals in need.
We are implementing an Amazon Wish List, building our website, designing a new tee shirt, and a 2016 calendar. More information on those items to come.
We’ll be sharing some of Shirley’s amazing stories while we’re hard at work bringing this idea to life. It’s only because of your support that we can make this dream a reality.